top of page

What is Barre?

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

The word barre stems from ballet, it's the handrail fixed to a wall used for ballet exercises.

I have spent so many ours of my life *at the barre* learning ballet from a young age.

In a ballet class we start at the barre to warm up, work on our technique, strength and stretch out before we work without the support of *the barre* in the center of the room in front of the mirror.

I used to do barre work everyday. I did a lot of pilates, yoga, floor barre work, as a professional dancer to stay fit during holidays and to prep for starting out a new semester during my studies.

Barre class is a workout technique

combining ballet-inspired moves with elements of Pilates, dance, yoga shapes and general fitness workouts.

It focuses on low-impact, high-intensity movements designed to strengthen your body in ways that few other workouts can.

As barre has evolved it started to look less and less like dance. Barre fitness is a hybrid workout class - with the same elements as mentioned above in addition to strength training with weights and cardio bursts.

Barre workouts today are known for their intense leg and seat workout, maddening core blast and infamous externally rotated thigh position.

And their small isometric movements, also known as - pulses.

Barre was originally conceived by German ballerina, Lotte Berk. Berk fled Nazi Germany to the UK in the 1940s and there she developed barre as a way for not only trained dancers to

tone, strengthen and increase e range-of-motion and flexibility. She created her method for women to convene in communities of strength and empowerment inside and out. But she didn't patent the name of her method as some of her contemporaries did with their innovative new fitness methods – like Joseph Pilates, coining the "Pilates" class as a clearly defined method with specific movements, certification, and standards.

The Secret Sexual History of the Barre Workout

The fitness phenomenon once taught women how to radically improve their sex lives.

Lotte Berk was a free-love revolutionary who began teaching the regimen in 1959, specifically wanted to advance what she called “the state of sex” by encouraging women to pursue sex for their own pleasure. And in the post–sexual revolution 1970s, women’s magazines pitched the workout as a way for women to do just that — or as Cosmopolitan put it, to "build sexual confidence". Read more:

Today side of barre history is not well known, as barre has become a mass commercial fitness trend. I personally did not place a foot indoor the gyms until I started teaching yoga in them. After turning thirty I figured I should start working on my strength and work with weights for my bone health.

Age-Related Muscle Mass Loss Is Real From the tender age of 30, men can lose anywhere between 3 percent to 5 percent of their muscle mass every decade. Humans have a certain amount of fast twitch muscle fibres and we start losing this as we get older. Of course we can still build muscle after 30 and counteract this natural process.

I tried many different styles of classes, but I really couldn't be bothered with the extensive recovery time that came with the really hard classes. I have always considered myself really weak, but in these types of classes I would see that I had great technique compared to the stronger regulars. I used less weight, but in a smarter/safer way. So when I discovered barre I was ecstatic, I had found my workout. Less recovery time, low impact training that's fun, but still a fierce workout encouraging muscle failure (that's a good thing;) read more on the science behind it below.

I am now enrolled in the Barre Eclipse teacher training online.

There are a lot of barre styles out there, but the quality of Barre Eclipse style stands out

as most styles of barre adhere to perfectionistic body image.

As in ballet the message is to be smaller and thinner, with body shaming language.

That's where Barre Eclipse raises *the barre* bringing inclusivity and empowering language to the barre world - EVERYONE can gain something from this empowering and fierce movement style.

My amazing yoga and barre teacher Adrienne Rabena @barrewithadrienne is the creator of the Barre Eclipse method who got me totally hooked on barre with her yoga voice and lunar/yin style of gently inviting me to my edge, instead of the pushing yang energy witch repels me from working out. Moving from a place of empowerment instead of ego. What a difference it makes.

Our bodies are not supposed to be punished when we are working out, rather it's an opportunity for our bodies to be CELEBRATED. To me the barre eclipse style is a fierce and fun body-loving-workout, that helps me stay grounded, leaving me feeling empowered and strong. I started doing barre in addition to my yoga practice. But I ended up trading yoga sessions for barre time and time again. It's a great practice for me to compensate for years of over stretching and repetitive movements in yoga. I want to create a sustainable practice so that my body can thrive well into my senior years.

How I met Adrienne

I studied 'The craft of teaching yoga' in Rome with Adrienne & Eric in Rome two years ago.

You can read the blog I wrote about a lesson from a class with Adrienne here.

I'm so excited to be continuing my studies with them with the Barre Eclipse Teacher Training. And I am SOUL-excited to bring barre to the people.

—the BARRE ECLIPSE method —

Fiery, dynamic, and well-rounded classes.

Fresh, creative exercises that are low-impact and use minimal props.

Total body workout that will leave you sore in the best way.

Barre is one of the fastest-growing fitness methods today. There are many different styles of Barre, but I absolutely love-and-adore Adrienne's style because of her creative genius, her thoughtfulness and body affirming language. Barre Eclipse is a kick-ass workout filled with heart. It's one of the toughest workouts out there, yet you leave class feeling calm and empowered. Barre is bound to be your new favorite workout.

Barre is a perfect friend for any movement practice, but I would say really important if you have are regular yoga practice as it targets muscle groups that supports the yoga shapes to create a more sustainable practice. Barre is more similar to yoga than you might think, and it is a wonderful complement to yoga. Yoga and Barre go together like peanut butter and jelly: Barre will strengthen your core quickly – The high numbers of reps focus on the muscles in the core – glutes and legs. The movements you do in Barre use “pulsing” until your muscles get tired. The fact that your muscles are worked until they are tired helps you grow core strength – fast.

If you want more facts I'll leave you with this information that I sourced from:

Barre improves postural alignment, flexibility, core strength and functional fitness, while the low-impact format minimizes the risk of injury.
It's very relatable to the rest of your life. Barre is revolutionizing bodies in an all-new way, and it’s thanks to two little words:

One inch.

That’s right, one inch is all it takes to completely overhaul your physique in a way that doesn’t require heavy lifting, heavy grunting, heavy barbells, and heavy weights.

Who knew?

See, when you come to a barre class, you’ll be moving your body through a full range of movements and isometric holds, leading into what’s called “pulsing,” which means that you’ll be isolating a muscle group—say, your glutes—and, through a series of micro-movements of just one inch, you’ll exhaust the muscle and force it to change its shape. This is called eccentric training—we keep the energy costs low, while keeping the force/exertion high. This leads to muscles that respond dramatically differently than traditional weight lifting methods, because you aren’t moving the muscle as a whole; you’re isolating individual slow twitch muscle fibers.

The more you focus on a micromovement, the more you recruit your muscle fibers—and that leads to revolutionary new changes, fast. Ultimately, the muscle is loaded negatively (the weight is more than the force the muscle is generating) thus lengthening it under resistance. And that’s what we call gravity-assisted lengthening, otherwise known as eccentric.

You benefit from the pulsing, but also from the holding of a posture, in which you’re continuously engaging the muscle in a different way. However, you’re also getting a mini-recovery with each pulse, so you can hang even longer—and get an even better workout.

This is one reason there’s less damage than traditional strength training methods—and why barre also results in faster muscle recovery. It’s all about those slow twitch mini muscle fibers—and the way we ask them to perform mini-movements. We’re able to strengthen and lengthen muscles without straining tendons or ligaments.

As a bonus? This type of training has been shown to increase the secretion of muscle-building hormones, like HGH and testosterone, compared to conventional methods, according to a 2007 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study.


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page